SYDNEY (JTA) – The brother of Manny Waks, who has been at loggerheads with Chabad over sexual abuse charges, acknowledged ripping the glasses from a Chabad rabbi’s face in Melbourne.
Chaim Waks, 24, had the altercation at the end of the Shavuot service on May 14 with Rabbi Zvi Telsner, the spiritual leader of the Yeshivah Center, which houses the city’s Chabad headquarters.
Telsner offered holiday greetings to Waks, whereupon Waks acknowledged asking the rabbi, “How dare you f***ing wish me a good yom tov?” Manny Waks confirmed that his brother also admitted throwing Telsner’s glasses on the floor.
Manny Waks went public in 2011 with claims that he was sexually abused when he was at the Yeshivah Center school in the 1980s.
Telsner, a New York native, declined to comment but confirmed to JTA that the incident happened.
Manny Waks said in a statement: “I have informed Chaim that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. It makes no difference what an individual has done – in this case the ongoing attacks by Rabbi Telsner and some within his community against my family. The use of violence is never an option and needs to be unequivocally condemned.”
Manny Waks also has accused senior Chabad rabbis of covering up complaints by parents of alleged sexual abuse victims and helping the alleged perpetrators flee the country, sparking a feud between the family and Chabad officials. He also claims his complaints to Chabad’s then-chief rabbi were ignored.
Meanwhile, the Waks’ father, Zephaniah, said he was harassed by another congregant inside the sanctuary the day after the incident between his son and Telsner. He has reported the matter to police.
Zephaniah Waks claims he has been shunned by his community and denied rites at Chabad’s main synagogue since the furor erupted in 2011. Chabad officials deny the claims.